Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Lazy Girl Dishes: Apple Crumble

There are plenty of people who will assure you that the apple crumble is boring; that it’s a waste of good apples; that there are so many better things that you can do with both apples and crumbles.

If you ask me though, crumbles – and especially this one – are the true lazy girl dessert that makes us look like domestic goddesses who actually make our own desserts. (The very laziest among us would opt for store-bought cake and ice-cream, obviously.) Warm, sweet fruit hidden under a rich, buttery crumble, supplemented with a decadently creamy, vanilla-y accompaniment; what more could you possibly want? It is truly the perfect autumn dessert.

The best part? It’s so simple that it’s almost impossible to mess it up and it only takes minutes to prepare! My favourite recipe is a slight variation on this one I found on BBC Food when I first started making this dessert.

The raisins are not pictures here. Obviously, I'm that person who forgets to hunt down at least one ingredient until the last possible second.
Serves 4 (and a bit for leftovers).
Prep time: about 15 to 20 minutes, Baking time: 30 to 45 minutes.


for the crumble
200g plain flour, sieved pinch of salt
100g quick-cooking oats (I use Quaker's.)
1/3 cup almond flakes
175g unrefined soft brown sugar
200g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
Knob of butter for greasing

for the filling
450g apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm/½ inch pieces
50g unrefined soft brown sugar
¾ cup raisins
1 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp pinch of ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

I prefer the apples in my crumble to still have a little firmness; essentially, to taste like cooked fruit, instead of jam. For this, this recipe includes raw apples. Simply peel, core and slice your apples into ½ inch pieces. Combine with all the other filling ingredients. The sugar goes syrupy almost immediately and smells divine so make sure the apple slices are coated evenly with it and the ingredients are all well-distributed. Originally, the recipe also included a mere pinch of cinnamon, but I love this spice. ½ a teaspoon is the perfect quantity for my recipe, therefore, but feel free to fiddle with it if you're not a fan.

Grease an oven-proof dish – the recipe recommends a 9 inch or 24 cm dish but I've sort of always gone with the flow and turns out okay – with the knob of butter. Spoon the fruit into the greased dish, being careful not to break too many apple slices.

Now, for the crumble, get ready to get your hands dirty. Originally, the recipe calls for 300 grams of flour, but I experimented for a slightly more interesting texture and flavour. I whizz the almond flakes in a dry mill for a few seconds to get them halfway between choppy and powdered so that they aren't too chunky compared to the oats and then in they go, in a large bowl, with sieved flour. Add the oats and sugar and combine the dry ingredients well.

Once the dry ingredients are well-mixed, add room-temperature, cubed butter in small batches and get your hands in. Adding it a few cubes at a time and slightly softened makes your life way easier, trust me. Use your fingertips to rub it into the dry ingredients. The mixture needs to resemble – surprise, surprise! – a crumble when it's done.

If the crumble is too sandy in texture, add a tiny amount of butter more. If it's too sludgy, add flour.

Make sure the layer of fruit is evenly spread, then bury the appley little coffin with the covering of crumble you've just made. Stick it in the oven while you clean your kitchen and put your feet up for a nice cuppa – baking for 35-45 minutes – or make yourself a nice custard while you wait. (Or just paint your nails, that's what I did!)

Take the crumble out when the fruit is bubbling and the crumble golden. This recipe is best served with either custard or a nice, generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

If you try the recipe out, don't forget to tweet me a picture! Share with your friends, enjoy, and happy autumn!

 Now playing: Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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